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For years now, on our standard date night, we’d toast with a glass of wine [or three], flip through Netflix or Hulu for a good independent film or an interesting series to watch. You know, just a little something to help settle the mind after a long week. Every now and then, we’d stumble across a scene where a character has a drop dead gorgeous home and we’d think “wow…someday, we’re gonna live in a place like that. Not sure when or where, but…someday”. The home was typically based out of New York, California or the Pacific Northwest—never Atlanta.
Don’t get us wrong, we love our city and the home we were in. It was a comfy, cozy, older townhome at approximately 1,400 sq. feet across 2 levels with 2 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths which we completely renovated in 2016. Mr. r&R bought it in 2006, Mrs. r&R moved in early 2015, we paid off the mortgage on her birthday in 2017 and now, we’ve moved out of it. That home will become a debt free rental; the second in our real estate investment portfolio.
It’s crazy when we think about it. It feels like something only “rich” people do. Like something only people who work in real estate do. But it’s something that we planned, executed and are now doing as well. We kinda sorta wear both of those hats but more than anything, we’re REGULAR a$$ people who for the last five years zigged while others were zagging. Our goal was simply to upgrade our day-to-day lives without the pressure of a giant mortgage lingering over our heads.
Well, that day has officially come. After years of planning, dreaming, making trade-offs and living small by ATL standards, we finally moved into our new home and we couldn’t be happier with our decision.
Not only is this our new home…it’s a NEW purrrty home. A few months ago it was a piece of dirt and slowly but surely it’s become our beautiful shiny new casa. Our old place (on the left below) was spread across two levels. There was no front area, no garage for our cars, no backyard and no nice patio for us to sip wine on.
Our new place (on the right above) is 2,700 sq. feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, a complete basement, two patios, two car garage and a lil knook of a backyard. More importantly, it’s in a part of the metro Atlanta area that has been completely redefined over the last ten years. It’s the perfect balance between catering to families and young professionals that like to go out err now and then.
It’s closer to the airport than our old home and a straight shot into the city for those days where we need to scratch our itch for ratchet $hit. Lastly, it’s minutes away from our son’s daycare which is awesome for Mr. r&R since he now works on the blog full time from home. While this was an emotional decision, it was also one that was pretty well thought out. If we were to use our hardcore money nerd lens to evaluate this decision, we would’ve run in another direction. We love them, but we’re not our Playing with Fire cast-mates, Millennial Revolution who have some pretty strong opinions on homeownership. Considering we have a child and plenty of work “juice” in the tank, we opted to go hard for a few more years before easing off the work train completely.
Compared to our old home, this new one is hella expensive. Naturally, our utilities will go up considerably and insurance is significantly higher. All of this reduces the amount of income we have to put towards investments. However, we believe living in this new home and area will improve our quality of life and productivity considerably. As people who actually do enjoy entertaining, we’re also excited to do things we couldn’t do in our old home.
Little things like playing music downstairs while our son sleeps will be a possibility now. Secondly, the kitchen is heavenly compared to our new home and will likely be Mr. r&R’s hub for the next few months as he works on some really exciting “special projects”. More on that later.
But there are some financial perks to this home as well. We have smart and energy efficient appliances, we will take full advantage of the mortgage interest deduction and the part of town we’re in now is much less likely to see declines in property value than our old neighborhood. There is no denying it is an upper income area—the signs are all around us.
There are several nice parks, pricey daycare facilities, upscale restaurants, community events and work-live-play communities galore. All of this and more makes the purchase of this house more like an investment that may actually appreciate though that had little impact on our decision to buy. As real estate investors we know that the money is made [or in this case saved] at the time of the deal. Hoping for real estate appreciation without completing in-depth research on the area is a pipe dream and not a strategy we would ever employ for our primary residence or a rental. With that in mind, we opted to pay closer attention on the loan.
The mortgage process was super easy. After evaluating a handful of options, we chose to work with an online lender SoFi instead of the traditional brick and mortar bank. The primary reason for this was because we were not interested in making a large down payment and didn’t want to be charged PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). PMI is the banks way of charging you fees because you don’t have enough “skin in the game” aka standard minimum down payment [20%]. It’s pretty standard for a lot of banks to add a 1% fee to the loan which can easily add hundreds to your monthly note.
To qualify for this, [obviously] you need a relatively high income and excellent credit and luckily we were able to qualify with no problems despite Mr. r&R quitting his job a few months ago. All of this made going with SoFi a no-brainer versus traditional lenders or even the preferred lender by the builder. We’ve endorsed them in the past but given we’re officially clients now, we can’t say enough on how much of a pleasure the experience was from end to end. This isn’t a “sponsored” post but know that we certainly had a great experience with them and would recommend them in a heartbeat.
If you need to have your student loans re-financed or need a personal loan, SoFi does that too. If its anything like our home buying process, much of your communication will be handled online or via the app and you’ll be connected to the SoFi team throughout the process. We also loved getting what feels like a few extra hours of business hours since they’re based out of the west coast.
There were so many lessons to be learned through this entire process but here are a few we hope you’ll consider, especially if you’re considering buying a new home or in a house but re-considering your decision.
1. Think through the benefits of NOT purchasing the home. Might you be able to invest that money instead? Could you re-route that down payment to eliminate debt, boost your emergency savings or start a business? How else could you spend that money in ways that change your life for the better.
2. Can you really afford this house. Sure the bank is willing to give you an unGodly amount of money but WHEN something goes wrong like a busted pipe, crack in the roof, A/C unit failure can you cut a check for $2,000 without having to put it on a credit card? Will you have to carry that balance for months or possibly years before you pay it off? Are you one of the 40% of Americans who cant cover a $400 charge with cash?
3. Do you really need all of that space? Seriously, how often does your family come to visit? Do you really enjoy cooking and entertaining so much that you must have a premium kitchen with commercial upgrades? Do you think your child will want that playroom or backyard forever? Just how realistic is it to assume you’ll finish that basement?
We could go on but we’ll stop there. The point is, you should really give buying a home a healthy dose of thought and analysis. For us, it took years and several bottles of wine to help us avoid regret and making a devastating financial decision.
We’re also taking our time with furnishing our new home. We’re bringing our old table but swapping out the chairs. We’re keeping our old sofa for now and will try to scrub the baby juices out of it (#newparentlife). Lastly, we’ll have plenty of bare walls and empty corners for the foreseeable future until we can get back to normal. In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying the beginning of this new chapter. Til next time!
Mr. and Mrs. r&R